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Professional services firms – spanning industries such as consulting, accounting and financial services, and technology – use an average of around 10 marketing techniques to grow their businesses, according to a study from Hinge Marketing [download page]. For those growing fastest (at least 20% annually), partnership marketing proved to have the greatest marketing impact, per the report.

Survey respondents were presented with a list of marketing techniques and asked to rate their impact on a 10-point scale. The results indicate that partnership marketing had the broadest impact among high-growth firms, with one-third rating the impact as a top-2 box score (9 or 10).

While partnership marketing clearly has the biggest impact for high-growth firms (interestingly, none of the firms lacking growth cited it as having an impact for them), other techniques are also getting the job done for some. Content marketing is one such example: almost one-quarter of high-growth firms said that downloadable, educational content has a significant impact for them. Rivaling content marketing in impact were speaking engagements and outbound phone marketing, per the report.

Interestingly, online advertising seems to have had a significant impact on more high-growth firms than email marketing, perhaps as the former is geared more towards acquisition while the latter can be used more for engagement and retention.

Email marketing, considered by many to be the most effective digital marketing tactic, emerged as the top vehicle for investment of efforts, though. More than one-quarter rated their investment in email marketing as significant (top-2 box score on a 10-point scale), with outbound phone marketing taking the next-most time and money.

By contrast, speaking engagements – high on the list of impact – seems to have required less investment from high-growth firms.

Separately, when they were asked how they differentiate, a leading 43% of high-growth firms said that they do through technology, as opposed to through their marketing/business development approach (17%) or the history of their firm 13%). By contrast, firms lacking growth pointed to the history of their firms as their top differentiator.

About the Data: The data is based on a sample of 505 firms who provided the requisite three years of financial and operational data needed to calculate growth. The firms had a combined annual revenue of $87 billion. Close to one-fifth of this sample are large firms ($50 million or greater in revenue and more than 200 employees) and 43.2% were small (between $1 and $5 million in revenue and fewer than 50 employees). Three-quarters are based in North America, and 29.4% qualified as high-growth firms with an average yearly growth rate of at least 20%.

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